Javelin SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 8:42 a.m.

FM has a few different packages that all look good, and Raceland has Uber-Cheap coilovers, and Tire Rack has the classic Koni + Eibachs. I need new shocks for the Miata, and I really would like to be more competitive locally. The lots we race on tend to be bumpy and right now the suspension is all stock 1.6 Miata. I would like non-adjustable as I have no idea what I am doing and would likely adjust them wrong. I'm leaning towards the V-Maxx setup from Flyin Miata. Thoughts? Advice?

Note: I have a budget and the car will never be at Nationals. It's also driven to all events and to work on sunny days.

nderwater HalfDork
Jan. 25, 2011 9:48 a.m.

There's some helpful info and advice in these threads:




I just picked up a set of eBay OBX coils & sleeves and am waiting on a set of Bilstein HD's to complete my $500 suspension upgrade. My plan is to try it out for a summer, then get the shocks re-valved at the end of the season by one of the popular Miata shock tuners.

modernbeat HalfDork
Jan. 25, 2011 9:55 a.m.

On a limited budget? Get a set of Bilsteins off a Mazdaspeed Turbo MX5.

There's a set including springs and top hats on MiataTurbo.net for $450.


Tom Heath Webmaster
Jan. 25, 2011 10:03 a.m.

I love the flexibility of Bilsteins. You can revalve them to meet your needs; the same set of entry-level HDs can be revalved for Solo nationals-level competition. Check out Fat Cat Motorsports, they can do amazing things with a standard issue Bilstein when you're ready.

That said, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Flyin' Miata fanboi, so I'll always endorse their stuff too.

Keith SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 10:49 a.m.

Revalving is an option, but you do have to look at price and turnaround time. In the case of Konis, I think it's about as much as a new set of shocks. In the case of Bilsteins, it's less but still fairly pricy.

The V-Maxx setup really does work well as an entry-level. Heck, we've got it on one of our fastest (4-cylinder) Miatas and it always surprises people. It will ultimately limit you as you're pretty much stuck with the initial specification, but the initial specification does work really well - and for under $600, you've got springs, shocks and bumpstops ready to go right out of the box.

So it depends in large part on how future-proof you want to be. Do you want to run at Nationals, and do you think the Bilsteins will be a good base for that? Then there's your choice. If you're not planning to do that and you want something good right from the start, the V-Maxx are a good choice. They'll be a higher performance setup than a used Mazdaspeed collection.

cghstang Reader
Jan. 25, 2011 11:59 a.m.


How much time will fresh shocks and new springs actually be worth if you are running less than cutting edge tires?

Did you catch in the article on Tommy's E30 where fresh tires were good for something like 2 seconds on the test track and after completely refreshing the suspension they dropped how much more time? Less than 1 second I think.

I loved the FM Stage 1 suspension on my NA but never autocrossed it competitively. If I wanted to be competitive locally I would not have upgraded the suspension any further (at first), I would get the best tires available.

Mild thread-jack: I would love to see a similar tires vs. suspension vs. stopwatch test with the project Impreza for rallycross conditions.

1slowcrx HalfDork
Jan. 25, 2011 12:12 p.m.

FWIW... I've had my bilsteins (BMW's) revalved by Stewart Development

They took 2 days and were $55 a shock. Did an awesome job and matched Koni Race's dyno plot with my HD's

Javelin SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 12:30 p.m.

I have a fresh set of Falken Azenis Rt-615's in 205/50/15 in bags in my garage waiting for the start of the season mounted on RoTa RB's. I have tires pretty well covered. The RE-01R's and Star Specs work better when it's really hot out, but I live in the great Arctic Tundra that is the Pacific Northwest, and the Falkens seem to do better.

Now, I am upgrading the shocks because my car has the original 163K mile Mazda units on them and if I hit one more pothole in that car my spine will fall out. I HAVE to replace them, period. So, if I am replacing them I might as well get something that will make it quicker at the local autocross.

Again, this car will NEVER make it to Nationals (it's a loaded B-pack 1.6/open diff car for chrisakes!). It is strictly a nice-day driver and local AX toy for the wife and I. I don't want to rebuild anything, I don't want to adjust stuff, I just want to drive the car 50 miles to the site without needing an on-call chiropractor, mix it up with the cones for a bit and drive home. (I even drove it to work today).

Mods so far: Hard Dog Sport rollbar, 205/50/15 Falken Rt615's on 15x7 Rota RB's, Magnecor wires, FM pedals, Optima Yellowtop, and a fresh tune-up (all facotry Mazda parts, timing belt, sensors, seals, etc). Also a fresh mazda clutch kit with new fork, master, slave, and FM SS clutch line.

I would like to do the springs and shocks (along with mounts/bumpstops) now, and possibly the roll bars. I'd really like for it to have more power but I feel the effort would be wasted on such a tired motor without at least a head rebuild first.

Capt Slow Dork
Jan. 25, 2011 1:06 p.m.

TypeQ may weigh in here pretty soon. I had the privilege of driving his miata a while back. He had his suspension work done by Fat Cat Motorsports.

I was hugely impressed with his setup, the course was fairly bumpy and rough but the car maintained composure and had no bad habits. I normally co-drive a AW-11 MR2 that is set up for STS and though I think I could occationally extract a few tenths of a G more from the MR2 (possibly due to tire choice), it really really punishes you if you screw up. I felt that Type Q's miata was a bit faster because it was perfectly balanced and more forgiving of little mistakes.

Of course I am also a bit of a Flying Miata fanboy too, but I have no personal experience driving any of their suspension packages so I will leave any comments to those that have.

Javelin SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 1:22 p.m.

Are the V-Maxx's really out of stock until the end of February? We start racing like a week after that...

Funny, I had ordered STR.T's last year and after Tire Rack kept be on back-order for 4 months (even though they were "in stock" when I ordered them) I gave up and canceled the order.

Keith SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 1:26 p.m.

Yes, the V-Maxxes are really out of stock. They're on the boat right now, but we don't have a firm date on when they'll be here.

Javelin SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 1:34 p.m.

mw HalfDork
Jan. 25, 2011 1:50 p.m.

I would recomend some koni yellows and ground controls with 550/350 springs. Its a fairly tried and true budget suspension option. I wouldn't be afraid of single adjustable shocks. If you're not sure what to do, just put the fronts on full stiff and play around with the rears. I'm no pro driver, but it's amazing the difference you make in the way the car handles with just the turn of a knob. I wouldn't want to autox without that adjustability now that I know how easy it is.

Type Q HalfDork
Jan. 25, 2011 3:12 p.m.

Since Capt Slow commented on my car, I'll jump in here as well. My '91 came with FM springs, FM sway bars and KYB AGX dampers the previous owner had installed. For auto-x it was a little soft and slow to transition. Also the bigger rear sway bar didn't help inside rear wheel spin digging out of courners in 2nd gear. The package works really well on the track.

I have been through a couple of interations to get to what I have on the car now. I am using early versions of the Fat Cat adjustable Bilsteins with ground control style adjustable perches and 500 lb springs front and 350 rear. I am still using the FM front sway bar abd currently running none at the rear. I hardly use the adjustability.

My best advise is buy quality dampers that are well matched to spring rates you using. The AGX's were not matched well to the FM spring and Sway bar package. It bounced around and was generally unpleasant to drive opn the street. The same springs on a set of Tokiko Illuminas is a different experience.

The Fat Cat valving rides unbelievably given how how spring rate I have in the car. In fact it rides better than the FM AGX combo. In a competition environment it is really composed, forgiving, balanced and, in the right hands , very fast. Bryan Heitkotter (sp?), one of the resident hotshoes here in the San Francisco area, drove it and told me it was the best balanced Miata he'd ever driven. He posted times that couldn't touch.

Based on the parameters you laid out. I would suggest looking at a set of Fat Cat non-adjustable Bilstiens with spring rates around 450 front and 300 rear. That would be completely livable in the street and really good for any autox. If this is outside your budget or time constaints, I have complete faith in Keiths recommendations.

Javelin SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 3:20 p.m.

FCM's do look nice, but they are about twice my budget! That's an awful lot of money for a coil-over setup for a local car that will probably be SCCA class-redacted into oblivion next year anyways.

Keith SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 3:22 p.m.

I'll back up the comments on the AGX shocks. We were pushed to them by customer demand (they were cheaper than Tokicos), but I never wanted to run them on my own car. Finally we just ditched them from the catalog because we realized that nobody at FM would recommend the AGX over the Illumina.

I prefer Illuminas over Konis, but a lot of it is going to depend on budget. For the price, there's not much that can touch the V-Maxx. For more money, you've got a lot of options.

Tom Heath Webmaster
Jan. 25, 2011 3:24 p.m.

In reply to Javelin:

They don't just make coilovers; there are options for nearly every budget. For what you're describing (aside from the V-maxx stuff that it seems like you already like) I'd suggest starting with a set of Bilstein HDs. When your needs change, you can revalve the shocks to suit.

Really though, it sounds like you're looking for approval on the V-maxx setup from FM. Not a bad choice at all in my book.

Javelin SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 3:57 p.m.

Hmmm... Tire Rack now has Bilstein HD's available. What springs go best with those?

jeffp New Reader
Jan. 25, 2011 3:59 p.m.
Javelin wrote: Hmmm... Tire Rack now has Bilstein HD's available. What springs go best with those?

I'd tell you what I run with mine...but my car is a daily driver. Not a dedicated fun/autocross car like yours.

MCarp22 Reader
Jan. 25, 2011 3:59 p.m.

I'm switching from Racelands to the Bilstein / eBay sleeve setup myself. Mine are from an MSM, so they have slightly stiffer rebound than the normal NB bilsteins. The damping force calculator I got from the Subaru guys (yes, i changed everything for a Miata) says that they should handle the 500/400 springs that I'm planning to run.

Keith wrote: Finally we just ditched them from the catalog because we realized that nobody at FM would recommend the AGX over the Illumina.

I think I'm up to about 5-6 "high fives owed to Keith when I finally meet him in person"

Keith SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 4:05 p.m.

Tom, if you drove Igor when you were here, that's the V-Maxx setup.

Javelin SuperDork
Jan. 25, 2011 4:08 p.m.
jeffp wrote:
Javelin wrote: Hmmm... Tire Rack now has Bilstein HD's available. What springs go best with those?

I'd tell you what I run with mine...but my car is a daily driver. Not a dedicated fun/autocross car like yours.

Ha ha ha, sooo funny! I drove it to work today just because it hasn't moved in forever (and the wife filled the garage with stuff when I pulled it out on Saturday...). I wouldn't call it a "dedicated AX car" as much as I just don't need it for work the next morning when it breaks. yes, I said when. Stupid car.

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